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District considers North Central Campus

New bond election and annexation of surrounding counties are on Saturday retreat agenda.

Published: Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Updated: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 22:10

An Alamo Colleges North Central campus might come sooner than later.

The district's plans will be discussed at a board of trustees retreat at 9 a.m. Saturday in Room 113 of Huisache at Northwest Vista College.

According to the agenda released this afternoon, district officials will pose the question of when to pursue planning for a new campus and how to address the issue of growth.

Trustees unanimously voted to purchase four tracts of land for a sixth college April 28, 2005. Since then, the land has remained undeveloped on the west side of Interstate 10 north of Loop 1604 near the Kendall County line.

During a telephone interview today, Chancellor Bruce Leslie said two other fundamental questions need to be asked at the retreat: whether the district should consider annexation of neighboring counties and whether the district should continue promoting growth.

State appropriations have been in decline for years, and the colleges effectively turned away students this semester when 1,500 sections were canceled as the district attempted to cut $12 million from the budget.

Leslie said if the district doesn't start planning for growth, the colleges might have to cap enrollment.

He said Northwest Vista College was built to support 12,000 students, and now the college serves about 13,000.

Leslie said within the next year or two, Northwest Vista will reach the number of students its facilities can support.

According to figures released Oct. 1, the college serves 16,023 students.

Leslie explained that the plan for a new North Central campus would be to make it a branch campus of Northwest Vista and that someday the campus would be a stand-alone college.

The city's growth, he added, is in the north and northwest.

This brings the issue of whether to pursue a bond, he said, and when to plan for developing one.

Voters rejected a February 2005 bond package for $450 million, which included plans to consolidate health career training from San Antonio College and St. Philip's College in the South Texas Medical Center.

In November 2005, a revised bond package of $450 million, which kept health career training intact at the colleges, passed. It included $125 million to construct Northeast Lakeview College.

Leslie said a new bond could help pay for the construction and planning of a new campus.

Leslie said if the board of trustees approve annexation of the seven counties in the district's service area, trustees will have to determine the model to use for annexation and when to pursue the change.

Although these counties receive services from the district, residents do not pay Alamo Community College District ad valorem taxes and must pay out-of-district tuition.

The change could bring in additional revenue to the district, he said.

A 2005 district report on annexation of Atascosa, Bandera, Comal, Guadalupe, Kendall, Kerr and Wilson determined the district would gain an additional $18.5 million from the additional property base offset by a change to in-district tuition, The Ranger reported Sept. 6, 2006.

Contractor Doug Lowe will present a demographics study at the retreat to help trustees understand growth trends.

District officials also will update the board on the progress of the 25 strategic initiatives, developed in summer budget retreats.

Go to www.alamo.edu for Saturday's retreat agenda.

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